Melissa Tancredi was sent off despite just 20 minutes on the field, Randy Waldrum was ejected, and the Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars exchanged a pair of first-half penalty kicks and injuries. But it was Chicago that ultimately prevailed victorious in a freaky Friday night affair at BBVA Compass Stadium, beating Houston 3-1 to jump into second place in the NWSL.
The Red Stars nearly went ahead when Lori Chalupny hit the crossbar 18 seconds into the match, but they wouldn’t have to wait much longer to take the lead. Becky Edwards was whistled for a harsh handball call in the box and rookie Vanessa DiBernardo stepped up to finish the kick from the spot for her first professional goal in the 10th minute.
Seven minutes later, the Dash would be denied a penalty kick of their own when forward Nina Burger’s one-time shot from eight yards out struck the hand of a sliding Julie Johnston. But Burger earned her team a penalty in the 32nd minute, when she was dragged down by Red Stars defender Michelle Wenino.
Edwards stepped up to take the kick and sent it low to Chicago goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc’s left side, but LeBlanc managed to save the kick with her knee as she extended her leg, ensuring that Houston would go into halftime without a goal at home in seven halves of play.
That drought at home ended in the 51st minute, however, when Edwards whipped in a sublime ball toward forward Ella Masar. The halftime substitute beat Johnston to the ball to half-volley it into the net, setting off a memorable and energetic celebration that saw Masar remove her jersey and the weight off her shoulders of not having scored since April 20.
But Houston’s lead lasted only three minutes. Red Stars left back Rachel Quon combined with Chalupny before sending a ball into the box, where Hoy flicked it on to Alyssa Mautz for the calm finish past Dash goalkeeper Erin McLeod.
Hoy then doubled Chicago’s lead in the 62nd minute when she precisely headed in DiBernardo’s free kick. DiBernardo sent in a line-drive of a free kick after Arriana Romero’s bad foul. The goal was Hoy’s fourth of the season. Waldrum was sent off seconds later as the Dash coach protested the call.
LeBlanc prevented Houston from getting immediately back into the game when she made a spectacular save on Masar’s well-struck scissor kick in the 64th minute.
Not everything went well for Chicago on the night. Tancredi was sent off for a second yellow card in the 88th minute, just 20 minutes after entering the match. She earned the first yellow card for an elbow to Kaylyn Kyle’s face, then was issued a second caution for time-wasting. Chicago also lost Jackie Santacaterina to injury in the opening half-hour.
Houston had to substitute Jordan Jackson just before halftime after an apparent head injury, and Dash defender Osinachi Ohale played the final 20 minutes after being helped off the field, since the Dash had exhausted all three substitutions.
The loss leaves the Dash (1-6-1, 4 pts.) winless in their last six matches, with their only victory coming on April 20 over last-place Boston. Chicago (5-2-1, 16 pts.) now marches forward knowing reinforcements — including forward Christen Press — are on the way.
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